Most people look forward to their honeymoon being a little steamy, right? Well let me tell you, mine was downright HOT. So hot, it caught on fire.
My husband Alex and I boarded the Grandeur of the Seas on Friday for a seven day cruise to the Bahamas. For three days we explored the ship, enjoyed the food, and relaxed by the pool.
At three o’clock Monday morning I was woken up by the captain speaking on the intercom. He calmly (because it’s his job) told us there was a fire on the mooring deck and requested us to directly report to muster stations. I calmly (because I couldn’t believe it) woke up Alex who had slept through the announcement. We were barely out of bed before crew members pounded on our door to ensure we were getting ready. I still couldn’t believe it was happening as Alex handed me a life vest and we proceeded to the fifth deck.
The disbelief continued as we were organized on deck near the lifeboats. The crew swiftly yet calmly ensured all passengers were accounted for while announcements were made on the intercom whenever updates were available. The captain continued to assure us the smoke was receding and the flames were coming under control. I felt anxious, yet never in immediate danger.
The fire burned for two hours until it was contained. In that time the lifeboats were lowered in to position and directions for boarding them were given if the captain were to announce for us to abandon ship. At the time we were told this was a precautionary action, but in hindsight we realized how close we were to being evacuated.
The overall experience still remains surreal to me, although it is highlighted by moments that serve as vivid memories. The calm I felt as my husband kept his hand on my shoulder the entire time we shuffled through the crowded corridor to the deck; the smell of smoke as we opened our stateroom door; the sight of the lifeboats being opened and prepared for launch. We were surrounded by our fellow passengers who were all making the best of the less than ideal situation. All stopped to appreciate the glow of the sunrise as it came up across the calm sea and found pleasant conversation with others we may have not otherwise had the chance to meet.
By late morning we arrived in Freeport, Bahamas. The crew that worked through the night to ensure our safety continued straight through the day to now ensure the change of port would still be enjoyable. Meals were served as soon as we were dismissed from the muster stations and we were encouraged to enjoy the sights of Freeport while the damage was being assessed.
We spent the day walking around the port, still assuming the cruise would continue. At dinner back on the ship, we said with a couple who couldn’t believe the amount of damage. Surprised we missed it, we returned to shore and looked in amazement at the charred steel. I had assumed there maybe would be burn marks through a porthole or some minor damage, I never expected to see the entire back of the ship burned out. It impressed with us how truly close we were to being sent on the lifeboats and an appreciation for the crew who contained it within two hours. That evening we were informed by the captain the remainder of the cruise was canceled and we would be flown home the next day.
As we approached the airport in Baltimore, the pilot told us of the horde of media waiting in the terminal. I still couldn’t believe the lengths this experience stretched to. As reporters looked for information, we mostly reflected on the amazing talents of the crew and what they did to ensure the situation would turn out as best as possible. Throughout Monday morning, I never felt danger. Never felt panic. There was a constant sense of calm even while crew members rushed past with bottles of oxygen and extinguishers. Even as the lifeboats were put in place and further instructions were given. All was expressed with an urgent calm.
Never before have I been able to focus so well on the positives of a negative situation. My husband and I just laughed each time we heard more negative news. I was so grateful for my safety and his, that it seemed to make a shield of happiness around me. We took it as a mulligan and began planning Honeymoon 2.0 before we were even home.